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Home > News and Events > Sport in Her Shoes – One Day Workshop

Sport in Her Shoes – One Day Workshop

18 Nov 22
The Well HQ co-founders Dr Emma Ross, Dr Bella Smith and Baz Moffat with Head, Shona Norman.

Last Friday, 11 November 2022, a one-day workshop presented by The Well HQ, called Sport In Her Shoes, took place in School. The event was aimed at supporting girls, boys and teachers in understanding and being able to talk about and discuss the female body, how it works and how to approach challenges so that girls can continue to participate in sport and physical activity at all times. 

In partnership with Best of Suffolk, The Well HQ co-founders Dr Emma Ross, Dr Bella Smith and Baz Moffat presented different workshops throughout the day. Dr Emma Ross is a female athlete health specialist and former Head of Physiology at The English Institute of Sport who was also the lead for the SmartHER project within the UK High Performance System from 2016 to 2020.  Dr Bella Smith is a GP in Woodbridge and specialist in women’s health.  Baz Moffatt is a former GB rower and now a women’s health coach with expertise in pelvic health. 

The day began with a whole School introduction to girls, boys and staff, followed by different workshops relevant to different Year groups. The introduction delivered by Dr Emma Ross, focused on specific differences in the male and female body and physiology with some great examples of common misconceptions as well as assumptions in sport as well as other parts of life. For example, the fact that crash test dummies for car design are based on a male physique therefore do not represent female drivers which clearly has implications for safety. More recently the introduction of PPE during the Covid pandemic saw female healthcare workers struggling with face masks as the design was based on a man’s face. A world primarily designed for men has massive implications, and the examples here are just the tip of the iceberg; females not being able to rise to the level of their goals because a system doesn’t support them is just not acceptable and so the day began with the students’ minds focused on the need for consideration and change.

Throughout the rest of the day, a number of Year group specific workshops took place, providing information and an opportunity for discussions on subjects including: the menstrual cycle, the power of female centric nutrition, breasts, bras, pelvic floor, injury and concussion, coaching girls and the female mindset.  Speakers also discussed the social-political context of gender gaps inherent in the world of sport, exercise and physical activity.

The biggest aim of the day was to reduce embarrassment, increase education and encourage more support and conversations on matters that affect girls and women every day.  Confirming that girls should not be held back by their female physiology, the day explored misconceptions, confirmed facts and provided advice and support for girls and boys at Woodbridge. From learning that you can gain a mile over a marathon by wearing the correct sports bra to understanding the impact of the menstrual cycle and products designed to reduce the impact on your sporting life, it was a captivating and informative day for everyone.

Comments from students about this particular part of the day included, “It was just so interesting. I play regional and county netball so everything was relatable, for example I just attended the breasts and bra seminar and I had no idea I should be wearing a sports bra!” as well as, “It was intriguing and interesting, really eye opening and inspiring – I hadn’t realise the damage you could do by not wearing a sports bra, and the improvement it could make to your sporting performance.”

One of our Year 11 students said they had thoroughly enjoyed the day, commenting, “It was so engaging! The idea of fitting sport around women rather than the other way around made so much sense. And it was so important that boys were part of the conversation because after all, they’re going to have consider these issues and challenges in their future lives – here at School and beyond in their working life.”

Dr Bella Smith commented on the day saying, “We know how beneficial exercise is, both physically and mentally, so for girls to be held back by their own physiology and hormones is crushing. What we’ve been teaching and talking about today is what I like to call ‘body literacy’; no one knows and understands their body better than you – you are the expert. And so by understanding what’s going on, what support there is available and being able to talk about it without feeling ashamed or embarrassed, means we can understand ourselves and each other more and make improvements that benefit everyone.”

Summarising the event, Ralph Pruden, Head of Sport, Fitness and Health at Woodbridge School said, “We have to make sure that girls have the same opportunities in sport as boys, and that means providing support to enable them to continue to play sport at all times. Today has been incredible, the School has been filled with conversations from the workshops and there’s been a real sense of comfort around the subjects they’re talking about – which is exactly as it should be. I’ve been impressed by the students’ approach to the subjects discussed.”

With research1 showing that 64% of girls drop out of physical activity and/or sport during puberty, it’s vital this subject is approached, understood and communicated to everyone, and Woodbridge School was delighted to host the event. Having hosted a meeting with parents ahead of the event, and inviting staff to participate and join in the seminars on the day, every possible step was taken to support the development of understanding and to facilitate and inform conversations.

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